Optimistically Cautious

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Next Stop: Disneyland

Late last year, the Churchill Station platform was Enmax-ified.

For anyone who didn't pass through this LRT stop, Enmax took over all of the display windows, hung large banners from the rafters, and even plastered the stairs and seating blocks with their logo and message (one morning, Enmax representatives were even at the Station handing out branded ice scrapers). Advertising their new EasyMax energy program, it made sense on some level to target the population utilizing public transportation - people who perhaps ride the bus for financial reasons who may be looking for ways to save money on electricity costs, or who have environmental concerns and may be interested in alternative providers.

If you have been to the station recently, however, it has undergone another makeover into an inescapable billboard for Disneyland. With a lavender color scheme and iconic portraits of spinning teacups, Snow White, and Cinderella's castle in its visual arsenal, the Magic Kingdom's display is undoubtedly more aesthetically pleasing - and emotionally manipulative - than Enmax's effort. For some, the images may conjure up feelings of nostalgia, childhood innocence, and carefree times. Still, while it is appropriate timing for summer vacation advertisements to begin their rotation, it's quite curious to me as to why Disney chose to target the LRT-riding clientele. While a wide variety of people count on public transportation in their daily lives, it's safe to assume that urban workers and students (university and otherwise) make up a large proportion of users. Does Disney think this continuous exhibition will passively lull this demographic into "I'm going to Disneyland!" proclamations?

I was thinking a more effective method would be to have Mickey and all his merry friends court potential travelers in person, and à la Enmax, hand out mouse ears and other themed memorabilia. A fun new hat may not spur a trip across the continent, but the receiver may end up wearing the ears all across the city, thus spreading the association. Or, even better, lobby ETS to temporarily change the Station name to "Disneyland." Can you imagine hearing "Next train: Disneyland," or "Next stop: Disneyland." Now that would be marketing.

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